China, Venture

Terns scores $80M in Series B financing led by Vivo, OrbiMed

Weidong Zhong

Transpacific biotech upstart Terns Pharmaceuticals, which is focused on developing treatments for NASH and cancer, has closed $80 million in Series B financing as it prepares to shepherd its lead experimental drugs to the clinic.

The new round of financing adds to the $30 million the company secured from Lilly Asia Ventures that led to an in-licensing deal with the ventures’ parent company Eli Lilly $LLY involving three NASH assets this April, including its lead investigational products TERN-101 and TERN-201.

Terns Pharmaceuticals came about when a California-based discovery team allied with a small development group in China to assemble a pipeline and efficiently develop new drugs primarily for the Chinese market. With Weidong Zhong — a long time investigator with experience in Novartis’ $NVS early-stage research group and at Gilead’s $GILD research programs combating viral pathogens and liver disease — at the helm, the backing from Lilly Asia Ventures came quickly.

This new round of financing, led by new investors Vivo Capital and OrbiMed, comes as TERN-101 and TERN-201 are being prepared to enter Phase I testing in the first half of 2019. Along with Lilly Asia Ventures, new investor Decheng Capital also contributed to this round.

Apart from its lead experimental programs, Terns has three undisclosed NASH targets and three undisclosed oncology targets in its pipeline.

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